Looking to clear spots on their 40-man roster for young prospects, the Phillies on Tuesday released pitcher Matt Harrison.

Harrison, 31, came to the Phillies in the trade that sent Cole Hamels to the Texas Rangers in July 2015. He never appeared in a game for the Phils because of a back injury that still threatens his career.

The Phillies were aware of Harrison’s back condition at the time of the trade and absorbed the remainder of his contract in exchange for a package of prospects that included pitchers Jerad Eickhoff, Jake Thompson and Alec Asher, outfielder Nick Williams and catcher Jorge Alfaro. Harrison is still owed $15.2 million — $13.2 million for the 2017 season and a $2 million buyout of his 2018 option.

More than half of Harrison’s salary was originally covered by insurance, but the pitcher would have had to stay on the roster in order for the Phillies to collect that money. According to a person with knowledge of the situation, the Phillies will still recover a portion of the money after negotiating a lesser payout with the insurance company before releasing Harrison. The amount of the payout is not known.

Harrison’s release is somewhat ironic considering the trade that brought him to the Phillies helped improve the club’s farm system and that improved farm system has the team scrambling for openings on the 40-man roster. The roster must be set by 8 p.m. Friday. The Phillies have eight openings and a host of players that must be added to the roster or be exposed to the Rule 5 draft at the winter meetings next month.


Here's a look at some of the roster decisions the Phillies are facing this week.